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Timothy Ford

Timothy Ford (tford@une.edu), Ph.D.
Dean of Graduate Studies


Source and drinking water microbiology, marine microbiology, waterborne disease, environmental health.  Specific areas include microbial cycling and transformation of pollutants, biofilm microbiology, microbiologically influenced deterioration of materials, use of microbial populations as biomarkers of environmental stress, and exposure assessment to both chemical and microbiological contaminants in drinking water.


BSc, Biochemistry, Sussex University, UK, 1980

PhD, Aquatic Microbiology, University of Wales, Bangor, 1984

Post-Grad Training

Post-Doctoral Training
Applied Microbiology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Research and Scholarship

Research Interests

Ford has both directed and participated in water quality related projects in the US, Canada, the UK, Mexico, India, Russia and the Philippines, and am currently building collaborations with colleagues in Hong Kong and China. In terms of scholarship, he has more than 150 papers, chapters and review articles published and in press and has received funding from the NIH, NSF, EPA, NASA, the Office of Naval Research and the US Air Force. 

As a faculty member at the Harvard School of Public Health, he both founded and directed the School’s Program in Water and Health.  He was also supported through the NIEHS Superfund program to examine marine microbial communities in sediments from an EPA-designated superfund site, New Bedford Harbor, MA, as potential ecological biomarkers of exposure to high levels of contaminant chemicals.  After moving to Montana State University as head of Microbiology in 2002, Ford served as Principal Investigator for the NIH-funded Montana Idea Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence Program (MT-INBRE).  This five year, $17 million program was designed to build research infrastructure in infectious disease and environmental health research throughout the state of Montana.

Current Research or Scholarship

Ford is currently PI on an EPA-funded grant to conduct a "Community Based Risk Assessment of Exposure to Contaminants via Water Sources on the Crow Reservation in Montana."  This CBPR project has involved developing a strong working relationship with the Crow Tribe through the Crow Environmental health Steering Committee to design a sampling and analysis program to capture the major routes of exposure to environmental contaminants in water and aquatic food resources, unique to the Reservation’s culture.  Data on contaminant concentrations, exposure pathways and exposure duration are being used to develop a comprehensive exposure assessment.

Two initiatives at UNE include 1) working with MSC & CLSI director, Dr Phil Yund, to develop Oceans and Human health initiatives, including source tracking of marine pathogens, and 2) working with CHPPR & CCPH director Ron Deprez, to develop CBPR projects in Maine, and research programs in water and health.

Selected Publications

2009 Publications:

Lachmayr KL, Kerkhof LJ, DiRienzo G, Cavanaugh CM, Ford TE. Quantifying non-specific TEM β-lactamase genes in a wastewater stream 2009; 75:203-211. PMC2612200

Xi C, Bush K, Lachmayr KL, Zhang Y, Ford TE. Interactions between environmental microbial ecosystems and humans: the case of the water environment and antibiotic resistance . In Lee-Ann Jaykus L-A, Wang H (eds). Foodborne Microbes: Shaping the Host Ecosystems. ASM Press 2009; pp 81-92.

Cheng S, Ford TE. Special Issue on Source Water Risk Control. Ecotoxicology 2009; 18:643–646.

Zhang X, Wu B, Zhang Y, Zhang T, Yang L, Fang HHP, Ford T, Cheng S. Class 1 integronase gene and tetracycline resistance genes tetA and tetC in different water environments of Jiangsu Province, China. Ecotoxicology  2009; 18:652–660.

Wu B, Zhang Y, Zhao D, Zhang X, Ford T, Cheng S, Zhang X. Semi-volatile organic compounds and trace elements in the Yangtze River source of drinking water. Ecotoxicology 2009; 18:707–714.

Zhang Y, Wu B, Cheng S, Zhao D, Li M, Cui Y, Ford T, Zhang X. Degradation of benzo(a)pyrene in the Yangtze River source of drinking water with functional strains. Ecotoxicology 2009; 18:742–747.

Ford TE, Colwell RR, Rose JB, Morse SS, Rogers DJ, Yates TL. Using satellite images of environmental changes to predict infectious disease outbreaks. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009; 15:1341-1346.

Bouskill NJ, Barker-Finkel J, Galloway TS, Handy RD, Ford TE. Temporal bacterial diversity associated with metal-contaminated river sediments. Ecotoxicology 2009, Sep 22. [Epub ahead of print]

Ford TE, Hamner S. Control of waterborne disease in developing countries. In Mitchell R, Gu JD. (eds). Environmental Microbiology. Wiley 2009, pp33-56.

Recently Funded Grants

Ongoing Research & Graduate Student Support:

1. Development of Risk Assessment Methodology, Risk Communication and Mitigation for Multimedia Exposure to Contaminants in Water and Wastewater on the Crow Reservation, Montana
US-EPA Ford (PI)

2. STAR Graduate Student Fellowship (Mari Eggers – Risk Assessment on the Crow Reservation)
US-EPA Ford (PI)

3. STAR Graduate Student Fellowship (Crystal Richards – Pathogens in Drinking Water)
US-EPA Ford (PI)

Invited Plenary Presentations

Water and health: a Perspective on India. Asia and the Environment Conference, St Joseph’s College, Philadelphia, PA, March 20-21, 2009.

Burden of Waterborne Disease.  One of three invited lectures at Nanjing University, PR China, as part of an International Forum on Environmental Health and Pollution Control.  Also, Ford was honored to be presented with a Concurrent Professorship from Nanjing University. October 11-16, 2009.

Other Selected Scholarly Activities


Cummins C, Ford T, Eggers M (& Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee members by phone). EPA Webinar series: Promoting Environmental Health in Native American Communities Community-Based Risk Assessment of Exposure to Contaminants via Water Sources on the Crow Reservation in Montana, November 18, 2009 (http://epa.blhtech.com/webinars/riskassessment.aspx).


Recorded Interview with Sound Medicine, Satellite Imaging to Predict Disease. November 8, 2009 (http://soundmedicine.iu.edu/segment/2238/Satellite-Imaging-to-Predict-Disease).

Recorded Interview with Microbe magazine, Better Satellite Surveillance Could Help Counter Disease Outbreaks, November 11, 2009 (http://www.microbemagazine.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1036:better-satellite-surveillance-could-help-counter-disease-outbreaks&catid=308:current-topics&Itemid=392)

Interview with Scientific American, Satellites Used to Predict Infectious Disease Outbreaks, August 24, 2009 (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=satellites-predict-infectious-disease&p)

Interview for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Use of satellites to predict infectious disease outbreaks. To be published shortly.

Interview for Predictive Modeling News, Satellite Data on Weather Patterns, Animals’ Movement Could Fuel Powerful Predictive Models of Disease Outbreaks. Predictive Modeling News Volume 2, Number 10, October 2009

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